His face had paled considerably as he stared at me, unable to make even a single reply.
I laughed cynically at his pathetic appearance. “I didn’t realise our deity’s decrees would be met with such exclusive prerequisites these days. Since when have we held more faith in outdated procedures over the word of our great mother, Selene?”
I was obviously embellishing the truth a little. The Goddess, Selene, had made it clear her chosen fate for me was actually to be by Benjamin’s side as Luna. But it wasn’t as if she was going to come down here and fact check me herself, nor would there be anyone in this room qualified to disagree with me. At the end of the day, she gave me the power to choose my own destiny, and this is what I had decided to do with it. I knew too well how she wouldn’t interfere with the choices her children made, having lived through that abandoned hell myself. Finally, I was able to exploit that system for myself.
“Winona,” Leo said with a tone of warning. “You’ve made your point.”
I peeled my eyes off William’s pitiful face only to turn back to the Alpha.
“So, it would seem we have an interesting predicament here,” Leo continued, deep in thought.
He then turned to my father who had been watching me tear into William, a mild amusement in his eyes the entire time.
“Jarred, I imagine you wouldn’t have let her come in here today without having at least some trust in her capability to handle the job. So, tell us, what is your personal experience with Winona that would persuade us to put our faith in her?”
My father turned toward me as he spoke. “Her ability is commendable in almost all aspects, Alpha,” he started. “She has already proven to me in a short amount of time that, not only does she hold an acute mind for all traits a leader should possess, but her talent in fighting has already far surpassed any expectations I could have possibly had for her age.”
“What good is your expectations when she will be knocked flat on her back the minute she is in a real battle, possibly even with a ranked male warrior?” my Uncle William chimed in, finally having found his voice again.
Unlike me, my father managed to keep his emotions mostly in check at his younger brother’s tasteless remark, choosing to only narrow his eyes just enough that most would have missed it.
“She may not be as physically strong as your male fighters, sure,” he replied, “but I think you’ll find that they will be lucky to just land a hit on her. Her agility and speed are like no other warrior I’ve ever seen. With continued training, I believe she may even become one of the best fighters in our pack.”
“It’s great to hear she takes after her old man,” Leo said kindly. “…But before we get to making a decision on this, let’s not forget to address one of the largest obstacles still here in this room.”
His tone and mannerism then suddenly changed almost instantly, scrutinising me where I stood.
“Winona has been prophesied to, not only be my son’s mate, but has also been foretold to bring us great success should she accept that union. If we all choose to grant Winona her wish in this ambition of hers, then we must accept that we may lose that advantage as a possible side effect.”
“Alpha,” I interrupted, “with all due respect, I have already given you my word that I will act only in the interest of the pack to see us succeed. There is no reason to force any romantic union between Benjamin and I when I am fully capable of fulfilling my duties – regardless of whether that be ranked or unranked. However, I feel becoming Beta would be the best compromise for us both, would it not?”
I turned to look at Benjamin and almost immediately regretted it. He was frowning in confusion, his eyes glaring at me. I wasn’t able to stop the slight tremor that went down my spine. But I didn’t have time to mull on his behaviour for long as the Alpha spoke once more.
“Very well, Winona,” he conceded. “I will entertain the possibility that perhaps there is no real reason for you to be joined via mate bond. Perhaps the prophecy was misunderstood and it was merely pointing at the fact you both would hold positions of power to lead us forward.”
Another murmur went out amongst the Elders. I knew they didn’t agree with this interpretation at all, some of them having been actually present at the time when they allegedly came to this revelation of my future.
“I think I’d like to take this to a vote,” Leo finally concluded. “Winona, William, Alexander… please step outside for a moment whilst we converse. Both the discussion and the
votes made from here on out will remain confidential from all
The three of us bowed and made our way out of the room.
The entire time we stood outside the door, Uncle William regarded me warily. I could tell he wanted to start an argument with me, his mouth opening and closing several times, but every time he was about to speak, he would just deflate again. A part of me wanted to smirk at how cowardly his true colours were.
Alexander on the other hand was silent, looking almost tired. I could only assume he was exhausted by his father’s continued attempts at pushing something onto him that he seemed to not particularly care about either way. I assumed he was happy enough to accept the role, but he was lacking the same drive of ambition that I held. In a twisted way, it could be perceived as my uncle attempting to live through his son; wanting something for him that he had always been denied. I wondered if Alexander was ever able to free himself of his father over the years I became Luna
It felt like an eternity waiting for the council to decide. As every second ticked past, the more nervous I became. I ended up leaning against the wall, eyes closed in thought, while I reviewed everything that had just happened in my mind. However, next to me, my uncle had begun pacing nervously, something I was finding increasingly more annoying by the minute.
Some may say it was a good sign though, I told myself. If there had been a strong majority either way, then the voting would have been over already. The fact that it had dragged out, for what felt like an hour now, could only mean that they were having trouble reaching a final decision.
And then, suddenly, the doors opened behind us.
We all looked up towards the Elder who stood there, their face completely unreadable.
“Thank you all for your patience,” they said. “You can come in